Ok folks. The third person of my trinity of cool* – Leonard Cohen – is releasing a new album, Old Ideas, his first new one since 2004. This is one 77-year-old beautiful man and he has shown through this new disc that he’s not even close to slowing down. It’s a startling piece of work. Stream the whole disc for limited time at NPR.
But there is one song – “Show Me the Place” – a tender piano-backed prayer that I am just transfixed by, so I must tell you about it. The third cut, I thought this song was surely an old black spiritual, given its gravely pathos, strong theology and painful spiritualism, but it is a new Cohen original.
Jon Dolan at Rolling Stone illuminates the song and Cohen’s overall delivery well…
His Cookie Monster-does-Deuteronomy baritone has long transcended ephemeral considerations like melody and tone, and the somber piano and stark religious imagery – warmed by a French-Canadian parlor-folk accompaniment and background vocals from old pal Jennifer Warren – will remind many of “Hallelujah.” “Show me the place where the word became a man / Show me the place where the suffering began,” Cohen growls, bringing to mind hard-nosed meditations on mortality by fellow septuagenarians Bob Dylan and Paul Simon. He’s staring down the eternal with unblinking honesty and a primordial sense of purpose.
You MUST listen to this song, linked in Dolan’s short review here.
Take in and relish how he gives you the last lines of this song.
“Show me the place where the Word became man / Show me the place where the suffering began…
*the other two persons, as if you had to ask: Bobby and Johnny.